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“Hiker's Paradise”

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Ranked #1 of 15 things to do in Micanopy
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Nature area with woods and swamp as well as an information center describing the wildlife in the area.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Level Contributor
27 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Hiker's Paradise”
Reviewed June 26, 2014

This is a very large park with a ton of hiking trails. We visited with 2 kids and weren't prepared for a long hike, but we ended up hiking a smaller trail where we saw armadillo, wild turkey and a variety of butterflies. The observation tower was closed for repair, which was very disappointing. I do wish they had a more detailed map that identified where you could see the cracker houses and other sights. I would like to return to see more of the park!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank Summer W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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215 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
69 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
“A Beautiful Place For Bicycling”
Reviewed May 29, 2014

My visit was on 5-20-14. As a recreational bicyclist, I love being outdoors riding on paved trails and state parks. Here I was able to ride for miles on beautiful canopy lined roads with lush thick pine and oak trees and scrub on both sides of me. I arrived later in the day so the visitors center was closed. A really big place so exploring would be a lot of fun for people. I'm not a fan of snakes so I don't hike or get off the pavement hardly ever. I loved visiting here and I'd recommend it for sure.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank Charles R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
398 reviews
167 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 402 helpful votes
“Saw lots of wildlife but restrooms were closed.”
Reviewed May 19, 2014

I visited on a rainy Thursday afternoon in May 2014. The only person I saw during my entire visit was the ranger who happily took my $4 and gave me a simple map showing the trails and roads.

I was disappointed that both the visitor center and tower were closed. The former closing at 4PM each day and the tower being closed for renovations. I love to visit nature when I'm on business trips and have a little time to kill, but my available time comes in evenings. I'm not a fan of parks that have visitor centers (or the entire park) where it's only open during the business day. I focused my attention on the trails which are very nice at this park.

My rental car was the only one in the parking lot so I walked slowly and quietly (and with plenty of bug repellent) and was rewarded with seeing a large tortise which was larger than a basketball, several snakes, birds, lizards, toads, deer and squirrels. Missed the bison however but perhaps I took the wrong trail.

Finally, I saw several alligators in some shallow ponds along the Lake Trail. One was remarkably large (to this Pennsylvanian) and we kept our eyes locked on each other while I walked past. After getting past the reptile, I was disappointed to find that the restrooms in the picnic grove were closed.

This is a nice park but overall is somewhat primitive. This is what I was looking for today, so I was satisfied, but I was very disappointed that after paying my $4, virtually all the facilities were closed except the tollbooth.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank copperdragon66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amherst, Ohio
Level Contributor
147 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“One big swamp”
Reviewed May 14, 2014

I don't get why you'd want to see this. It's a big brusshy swampy place great place to get bit by a mosquito.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank Vdubfixer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orange City, Florida
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Another Nice Park!”
Reviewed May 14, 2014

Always bring your bug repellent, and always make certain your pet has a flea and tick collar. This review is for February 2014. Not much need for the bug repellent, as we had a constant rain for the 3 days we were at the park, but we had a great time regardless. We camp in a 27 foot travel trailer, along with 2 small dogs. While camping, our passions are hiking, biking, photography, and relaxing.

The restrooms/showers are clean and well maintained. No cabins at this campground. As in all the Florida State Parks, the playground area is pretty nice. Getting in/out of the campsite area is no problem, and the sites are well maintained. A few of the sites are a tad tight to get into, so bring your patience. After all, you’re here to relax, so don’t let a 5 minute back-in ruin your weekend. And by-the-way, all are back-in sites. Most have the normal 30 AMP service, but there are a few that have the 50 AMP service. We did ask the park staff if we could adjust the campfire ring because it was a little too close to the trailer and awning. They graciously stopped by our site and helped us move the ring. These rings are moveable, but ask first.

There’s a lot to do at the park – biking, canoeing & kayaking, horse trails, fishing, and of course hiking. I believe gas engines were prohibited. There is the visitor center and the observation tower. We hiked to the center and tower, but the tower was closed during our visit due to a refurbishing effort. The visitor center was pretty neat.

There’s roughly 8 biking/hiking trails in the park. However, the trails are sand, and not paved. So, if you love biking, but can’t handle the sandy trails, stick to the park roads. We did manage to get in 2 good hikes, and because of the total wetness on the trails, we left the pups behind in the trailer. Plus 3 of the trails prohibit pets anyway. And lucky we did, as both trails had a lot of standing water after the harder rains came through. No one was on the trails on Friday, and the only people we met were 2 park rangers roving around in their ATV, pausing to make certain we were okay - very nice people.

We did not see any of the wild Spanish horses, but surprisingly we did get to see a herd of American Bison. Also along the trail, a herd of deer surprised us by leaping out in front of us, and we also spotted a bobcat paw print (I did get the picture). I forgot my camera on this trip, so the cell phone had to suffice.

Some of the tree fauna was simply spectacular! The moss hanging off of the huge trees reminded us of the old South plantations.

It was another beautiful park, and definitely one that we'll re-visit.

Visited February 2014
2 Thank normh915
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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